#OnTheList: Carrot Cake Cookie in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

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This post is part of the DFB #OnTheList series, where we feature eats you’ve GOT to have while you’re at Disney! Let us know what’s on YOUR Disney Food Bucket List @DisneyFoodBlog #OnTheList!

 

Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this post, the Writer’s Stop has changed its offerings in light of its uncertain future due to construction in that area of the park. But you can still grab a Carrot Cake Cookie at Sweet Spells!

The Writer’s Stop is an unassuming little coffee-shop-meets-bookstore at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But this small space is the original home to one heck of a BIG gem… and that’s the Carrot Cake Cookie, which is #OnTheList this week!

#OnTheList: Carrot Cake Cookie

The tricky thing about finding The Writer’s Stop is that it’s tucked in the Streets of America section of the park, which is dominated by false-fronts serving as studio settings of city streets. You could easily stroll right by and not even realize that it’s a functioning cafe and bookstore. [Read more…]

First Look and Review: Ferrytale Wishes Fireworks Dessert Cruise at Walt Disney World

Set sail on the Seven Seas Lagoon with us today as we take a first look and review a brand new premium offering at Walt Disney World — Ferrytale Wishes, A Fireworks Dessert Cruise.

Ferrytale Wishes Dessert Cruise Logo

The special event is still undergoing testing as Disney works to get all of the bugs out before the event’s official debut on Monday, October 5.

I had the opportunity to experience the cruise for myself last week while I was at Walt Disney World for the kickoff of the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Of course, I was anxious to check it out ahead of the opening. I know some of you have already booked the experience, so I’ve been excited to share with you a first look. Let’s head to the boat!

Ferrytale Wishes, A Fireworks Dessert Cruise

The Cruise departs from the Transportation and Ticket Center, so I was instructed to park in the Magic Kingdom parking lot.

I checked in at a location near the entrance to the Ferry Boats Dock. Don’t worry; Cast Members are there to help you find your way. :-) As you approach the TTC, just head left as though you plan to board a ferry to Magic Kingdom, and you’ll be in the right place.

Gangway to the Ferry

Gangway to the Ferry

Boarding began at 7:45 PM, and we were scheduled to sail at 8:00 PM promptly. Sailing time will change, of course, as it depends on when Wishes will be scheduled each night. Be sure to pay attention to the information for your particular booking. [Read more…]

Review: Zuri’s Sweets Shop in Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Market

We’re meandering back through the brand new Harambe Market in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to take you on a full tour and review of some of the treats at Zuri’s Sweets Shop today!

The shop, located outside the main gate of the new eating area, is your stop for all kinds of prepackaged sweets and snacks. You’ll find an assortment of familiar Disney snacks with Animal Kingdom-specific branding as well as a number of out-of-the-ordinary bulk items. But you’ll also find a confectionery counter with freshly made candy, cookies, and other sweets.

We shared a first look at Zuri’s the day it opened. As you may recall, the big story there was the “Match the Species” Treats — aka the “poop” candy. While the treats made a big sensation, they were gone almost as quickly as they arrived. (We’ve spoken to store managers about this, and they claim that the snacks sold well and they aren’t sure why they were pulled from the case. They suggest telling guest services that you’d like to see them come back.)

I can’t wait to show you all that we’ve tried over the course of a couple of visits! But before we get to that, let’s have a look around.

Atmosphere

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Harambe Market in person, be sure to take a look at our tour of this new spot. Disney has managed, once again, to create a brand new part of Animal Kingdom that looks like it’s been there since opening day. The themeing here is extraordinary.

Market

Harambe Market

You’ll find Zuri’s Sweets Shop standing across the “street” from the main area that [Read more…]

Photo Tour: Animal Kingdom Starbucks Design Elements

I simply can’t get over how fast this year is moving! We’ve already reached the end of April, which means in just a few weeks events like Star Wars Weekends, Magic Kingdom’s 24-Hour Day (both in May) and the return of Frozen Summer Fun this June will start to usher in the summer season at Disney World.

But that’s not all there is to look forward to! The anticipated opening for the final in-park Starbucks is this summer, too. It’s coming to Animal Kingdom at what was formerly the Creature Comforts merchandise  location. And I must say, of all the Disney Parks Starbucks (the others being Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery, Epcot’s Fountain View, and Hollywood Studios’ Trolley Car Cafe), I’ve always been most curious as to how Starbucks will be themed to fit into Animal Kingdom’s Discovery Island.

Dream Builders sign

Dream Builders sign

Many of the shops and food stops in Discovery Island are decorated with brightly colored signs and murals (take Pizzafari, for instance) as opposed to the deep greens and browns we often associate with Starbucks in their typical locations. And this was definitely true when the building served as Creature Comforts — think bright orange, purple, and teal. Granted, none of the in-park locations are what you would call “typical” Starbucks, but the unique beauty of Animal Kingdom offers the potential for some truly special themeing. And now is as good a time as any to explore a little further of what we can currently see, which is the outside of the building.

You’ll notice that the vivid colors from Creature Comforts have been toned down significantly, yet there are still some unique features that you won’t see at the other Disney Parks Starbucks locations.

Animal Kingdom Future Starbucks Exterior

Animal Kingdom Future Starbucks Exterior

Check out the coffee beans playing a role in the painted patterns along this wall border.

Exterior Border artwork

Exterior Border artwork

When you consider the continents, countries, and cultures celebrated in Animal Kingdom, including [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Off-The-Radar Disney World Bars and Lounges

Walt Disney World is supa fun, but it’s also go-go-go-go. Sometimes ya just gotta relax.

dfb2015_guide_3d

Of course, there’re all kinds of ways to accomplish that. But after a long, hard day of Disney touring, I love to head to one of my favorite Disney Bars and Lounges.

“Bar” might not be the first word you think of when you picture Mickey Ears and Pixie Dust. But actually, these are some of my favorite spots on property for a number of reasons.

And I know you agree, because when I first published the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, a comprehensive Index of Disney World’s Bars and Lounges was one of our readers’ top requests.

Well — we heard you! And I’m happy to let you know that the DFB Guide includes reviews of every Bar and Lounge in Walt Disney World!

Let’s dive into the Index and take a closer look at a few. You know my favorites, like Territory Lounge and the Dawa Bar. But today, I want to take you on a tour of a few places you may not have discovered yet.

And if you find this information helpful, then be sure to pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Ready to grab a drink?

A Niche Menu and Free Beer: The Wave Lounge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary resort is a great place to take in a relaxing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Seldom crowded, the restaurant, located in the quiet back corner of the hotel’s lobby offers a market-inspired menu at a much lower price point than you’ll find at Disney’s suite of signature restaurants. You’ll also find some delicious breakfast options.

But in addition to interesting eats, you’ll also find a pretty cool bar and lounge area.

The Bar at Disney's The Wave Restaurant

The Bar at Disney’s The Wave Restaurant

While the food menu is market-driven, the drink menu features some specialties, too. The Wave’s wine list features New World Wines, primarily from the Southern Hemisphere. And nearly all of the wines featured have one thing in common — screwcaps! Sealing wines with screwcaps is a way to battle cork taint, an unfortunate chemical reaction that can ruin a good bottle of wine. So don’t be put off by screwcaps the next time you see one; many quality New World wines, especially those from New Zealand and Australia, are sealed this way.

Wines at the Wave

Wines at the Wave

Do your tastes run to beer rather than wine? The Wave also features a nice selection of Organic Beers. In fact, if you’re a guest staying at the Contemporary or Bay Lake Towers, you can enjoy a Complimentary Organic Beer Tasting on Saturdays from 3-4PM. (Remember, this is JUST if you’re staying at the resort.)

Beer Flight at The Wave

Beer Flight at The Wave

Just stopping in for a drink? Try the Beer Flight. The presentation is pretty impressive.

A Bar That Switches Things Up: Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar

Another favorite stop of mine certainly lives up to the name “bar” — but for completely different reasons. In this case, we’re (mostly) trading cocktails for java and some interesting eats.

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

The Polynesian Village Resort has just undergone a major facelift. We’ve welcomed new spots, like the Pineapple Lanai (the resort’s purveyor of Dole Whips these days) as well as the crazy popular Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (waiting times have been up to 6 hours during its soft opening!)

Trader Sam's door sign

Trader Sam’s Door Sign

But with all of the changes, the resort has maintained most of its beloved eateries, including [Read more…]

First Look! Trattoria al Forno to Replace Kouzzina by Cat Cora on Disney World’s BoardWalk

We are getting our first details today about the restaurant that will replace Kouzzina at Disney’s BoardWalk when it closes later this year.

Trattoria al Forno will join other eateries at the deluxe hotel and entertainment district. The restaurant is slated to open this December.

Trattoria al Forno Logo

The menu will feature Italian fare with an emphasis on regional specialities and classic preparations. Many ingredients will actually be made from scratch, in-house. We can’t wait to try the freshly handcrafted Mozzarella and the house-made Cavatelli!

The restaurant will also have wood-burning ovens, and they’ll put them to good use making — you guessed it! — Neapolitan-style Pizza! Will it be like Via Napoli meets the BoardWalk? Sounds good to me!

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

I’m Hoping for Pizzas Like the Quattro Fromaggi from Via Napoli!

But they aren’t stopping there. Eating through Trattoria al Forno’s menu will be like [Read more…]

Full Review: West Side Starbucks in Disney World’s Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney (currently transitioning to Disney Springs, with the official renaming set for 2015) has opened its second of two Starbucks locations.

West Side Starbucks in Downtown Disney

West Side Starbucks in Downtown Disney

You may want to grab your own cuppa joe before settling in to take this tour – the West Side location is HUGE, so there is lots to see!

Starbucks Location in Downtown Disney's West Side

Starbucks Location in Downtown Disney’s West Side

Before we step inside, one of the unique outdoor features is the grass roof, aided in its growth by recycled coffee grounds.

Grass roof as seen from the side

Grass roof as seen from the side

Grass roof

Grass roof

As you approach the door to enter, you’ll notice that this is a Starbucks Reserve location. More on that to come…

Starbucks Reserve door handles

Starbucks Reserve door handles

While the Marketplace location that opened a couple of weeks ago is a walk-up counter for grab-and-go coffee, the West Side location is large enough that there is a dedicated room just for ordering and picking up your coffee. The queue is waiting for you!

Queue for the ordering counter

Queue for the ordering counter

Welcome to Starbucks!

Welcome to Starbucks!

Ordering room

Ordering room

If you are a Starbucks regular, you may not even need to glance at the menu, but it’s there, just in case ;) .

Menu board

Menu board

You can grab a bite from the bakery case as well. While there are no location-specific treats, I learned that this location carries just about every item from the La Boulange pastry line including coffee cake, cheese danish, cookies, muffins, croissants, scones, and breakfast sandwiches.

Bakery case

Bakery case

Bakery case

Bakery case

Packaged sandwiches, salads, and cheese and fruit boxes are also available.

Once you pick up your coffee, you can proceed to the next room and grab a spot to relax.

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Since it is anticipated that this will be a very busy spot, the name of the game is seating, and lots of it.

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

I liked this group table – a smart addition for a family vacation destination (there are a couple of group tables in the outdoor seating area, too, which we’ll see a bit later).

Large table

Large table

You can even gain some coffee knowledge if you take a look around. Chalk-style murals depict regions where coffee beans are harvested, as well as a little history of the French Press brewing system.

Mural

Mural

Mural

Mural

French Press mural

French Press mural

A few cool antique coffee grinders and measuring scales are tucked into wall shelves.

Coffee antiques

Coffee antiques

Antique scale

Antique scale

Everywhere you look, you’ll find more coffee-inspired details.

"Coffee sack" Pillow

“Coffee sack” Pillow

Beans at the Reserve Counter

Beans at the Reserve Counter

Changing screen showing progess of the coffee bean

Changing screen showing progess of the coffee bean

With lots of wood and black walls, this spot might be rather dark, but large windows provide plenty of natural light as well as a great view of Downtown Disney and the lake.

Window wall

Window wall

There are two really unique features in this room to share. One is the interactive screen. The screen is interactive in that you can “draw” on it (think etch-a-sketch, without the little pen).

Interactive Screen

Interactive Screen

I stole this little greeting idea from Heather, our Disneyland reporter, from her trip to the Starbucks location in Downtown Disney Anaheim :) .

DFB Greeting!

DFB Greeting!

I also mention the Anaheim Starbucks because you can use this screen to check out what’s happening out there from your spot at Disney World!

"Live from Anaheim"

“Live from Anaheim”

Of course, Anaheim is three hours behind the east coast, so there wasn’t much action to be seen during my morning visit, since they weren’t open yet. But there was still fun to be had — occasionally you can catch a glimpse of the chalk version of yourself, and see what they would be seeing in Anaheim.

Interactive screen

Interactive screen

I kind of felt like I was in the “Take On Me” video (by A-ha!) from WAAAAAY back in the day. If you remember that, then I salute you, fellow child of the eighties! (AJ’s Editor Note: “I TOTALLY had that cassette single!!!!!!! This is why Wendy and I are friends.”)

Obviously, part of what’s involved in this technology are cameras, so a disclaimer is present letting you know where to go if you prefer not to be filmed during your visit.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

The other special thing in this room is the Reserve Coffee Counter. If you are looking specifically for Reserve Coffee, save yourself some time and bypass the main ordering section, since you’ll find the Reserve Coffee in the seating room. It has it’s own register, so you can make your purchase without waiting in the main line.

Reserve Coffee Counter on the left

Reserve Coffee Counter on the left

Reserve Coffee Counter

Reserve Coffee Counter

Reserve Coffee is offered at select Starbucks locations, featuring very small batches of “rare and exotic” beans. These upscale brews are [Read more…]

News and Photo Tour: The Downtown Disney Marketplace Starbucks is Now Open!

So, we thought we’d give you a quick glimpse at the newest java stop in Downtown Disney… the Marketplace Starbucks is open and ready for business (with another one coming to the West Side soon). Let’s have a look!

Downtown Disney Marketplace Starbucks

Downtown Disney Marketplace Starbucks

You’ll find the location tucked in between the front entrances into the World of Disney store.

Marketplace Starbucks at World of Disney

Marketplace Starbucks at World of Disney

The first thing you’ll likely notice is the Starbucks Coffee signage in front of the signature green siren logo. The A frame mirrors those of the entrances to the store.

Starbucks Coffee Signage

Starbucks Coffee Signage

From that point, what you see is what you get! This location is walk-up only, with no seating other than the regular tables around Downtown Disney. This is a spot for grabbing your beverage and continuing your stroll.

Front view of Marketplace Starbucks

Front view of Marketplace Starbucks

Speaking of beverages, all the Starbucks favorites are here… as well as some of that new “Oprah Chai” you may have heard about.

Beverage Menu

Beverage Menu

Beverage Menu

Beverage Menu

One day I’m gonna order that, just to hear myself say it: “Oprah Chai me!”

Anyhoo, there is also an assortment of standard Starbucks snacks, including pastries from the new “La Boulangerie” line of treats that may have made it to your local store.

Starbucks food window

Starbucks food window

Cookies by the register

Cookies by the register

You simply walk up to one of the two ordering windows…

Ordering windows

Ordering windows

… then pick up your beverage on the side. After that, you’re all set to visit the rest of the shops and restaurants, with a little caffeine boost to help you along.

Left side pickup window

Left side pickup window

Right side pickup window

Right side pickup window

While that’s the basic gist, there are a few cool details to share. Only viewable from [Read more…]

Review: The New Café Glacé at L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France Pavilion

The creative minds behind the dishes coming out of L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France Pavilion are at it again!

L'Artisan des Glaces Sign

Home to Ice Cream Martinis, Pressed Brioche Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Chocolate Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches, L’Artisans has introduced another cold treat that’s perfect for the rising temps: the Café Glacé, an Iced Cappuccino with ice cream and whipped cream!

Cafe Glace Sign

Cafe Glace Sign

With the exception of the Chocolate Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich (since there is no improving upon chocolate and chocolate ;) ), some of the fun behind the treats at L’Artisans is that they are customizable with your choice of 16 flavors of house-made ice cream and sorbet.

List of 16 Flavors

List of 16 Flavors

The same is true of the Café Glacé: pretty much the only dilemma here is picking your flavor. Even after I had placed my order and paid, I still wasn’t sure which scoop of ice cream to choose.

Ice Creams and Sorbets

Ice Creams and Sorbets

It was a tough call considering the options of White Chocolate Coconut and Hazelnut, but ultimately I went with the Caramel fleur del sel (salted caramel).

Cafe Glace

Cafe Glace

Caramel ice cream layered between coffee and whipped cream

Caramel ice cream layered between coffee and whipped cream

While the base of this beverage makes it what it is, you can’t ignore the [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland First Look: Starbucks Opens in Downtown Disney!

The walls are down and the doors are open! Disneyland’s Downtown Disney has just welcomed one of the most unique Starbucks stores in the nation.

Downtown Disney Welcomes Starbucks

Downtown Disney Welcomes Starbucks!

This LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified store is beyond gorgeous.  First off, you may be wondering what LEED is; I myself had to look it up to get some more information.

LEED certification encourages “green” building, using sustainable products in the construction of the building.  It also requires Energy Star performance ratings on appliances, lighting, machinery, etc.

Welcome to Starbucks Anaheim

Hand Painted “Welcome to Starbucks Anaheim, California” Mural

This Starbucks has all that and more. Let’s take a look inside!

Atmosphere

Both the interior and exterior of the store are lined with upcycled box car wood.  It has been sanded and stained to a beautiful golden brown color. You can actually see the holes where the bolts originally held the box cars together.

Starbucks Panoramic View

Other design elements include hand painted murals and a tree stump that was cut into a bench for seating.  Starbucks wanted to bring in hand crafted elements that compliment their hand crafted beverages.

Up-cycled Box Car Wood with Hand Painted Murals

Up-cycled Box Car Wood with Hand Painted Murals

More Box Car Wood

More Box Car Wood with Mural

The focal centerpiece of the store is a 9 panel LCD screen that features original content from the areas of the world that Starbucks sources their coffee.

9 Panel LCD Screen Featuring "Water Color" Images of Coffee Resources

9 Panel LCD Screen Featuring “Water Color” Images of Coffee Resources Used by Starbucks

The images have been modified to look as though they are watercolors, and change every minute or so.  The only other Starbucks in the nation to features this same screen is in New York’s Times Square location.

All Content on the LCD Screen is Original to Starbucks.

All Content on the LCD Screen is Original to Starbucks

All Content on the LCD Screen is Original to Starbucks

When designing the store, Starbucks knew that its visitors would be in the area expecting some Disney magic.  Looking to impress guests and spread some of their own pixie dust,  elements were added to this new store that have yet to be introduced to any other Starbucks location.

The main feature is the interactive digital chalkboard.  I immediately noticed this when I walked in the doors.  It does two different things. First, it acts as a drawing board allowing guests to use their fingers to write messages, draw pictures or play a fun game of tic tac toe.

about a game of Tic Tac Toe?

How about a game of Tic Tac Toe?

Of course I couldn’t resist trying it out for myself…

Disney Food Blog Was Here!

Disney Food Blog Was Here!

Second, it creates its own pictures using images it “sees” in front of it.

Sure enough, I watched for a few minutes and I noticed that the man sitting near it was all of a sudden featured in a chalk type drawing right there on the board.  Very cool!

Hey Guy! Look, you're on the screen!

Hey Guy! Look, you’re on the screen!

By the way — it has a disclosure right there on the wall stating that they are using scenes and people in that area of the store to create the unique chalkboard drawings, so you’ve been warned that you might be part of the artwork.

Video Disclosure

Video Disclosure

Above the barista work space, Starbucks has added a light up map featuring locations where they source their coffee.

Light Up Coffee Sourcing Map

Light Up Coffee Sourcing Map

Seating

This particular Starbucks has very little indoor seating.  In fact the only seating is really a few small benches and the round stools that can be seen in front of the interactive screen.

Indoor Seating

Indoor Seating

Instead, the seating was designed to be a patio experience; “alfresco” is what I was told specifically. The patio was built around a large pre-existing tree.  Not wanting to uproot this long time resident, Starbucks made it the focal point of the patio.

The seating around it is very inviting.  In fact, if it weren’t for the World of Disney being right next door, you might easily forget that you were just steps away from the Main Gates.  I can definitely see this area being at full capacity most, if not all of the time.  It’s a great spot to take a break.

"Alfresco" Seating

“Alfresco” Seating

Another element unique to this store is the living wall towards the back of the patio.  The wall features 1000 native plants and acts as a backdrop to more patio seating.

Living Wall with Patio Seating

Living Wall with Patio Seating

 Menu

In addition to their regular beverage menu, this particular Starbucks location has a “Starbucks Reserve”  menu.  They have a special reserve coffee bar that serves up some rare and exotic coffee blends that can not be found at most Starbucks locations.  The Reserve menu changes on a regular basis.

The Starbucks Reserve Coffee Bar: Serving Up Unique & Exotic Blends

The Starbucks Reserve Coffee Bar: Serving Up Unique & Exotic Blends

You can also find the familiar refrigerated cases that serve up prepackaged foods, snacks, bottled water, juice, milk and more.

Starbucks Refrigerator Case

Starbucks Refrigerator Case

Pastries and and treats can be found as well.

Starbucks Pastries

Starbucks Pastries

 Merchandise

This location has the typical Starbucks branded gear available for purchase. You can buy coffee, water bottles, cups, mugs, etc.

Starbucks Branded Merchandise

Starbucks Branded Merchandise

They also have a location-specific Orange County mug.

Starbucks Orange County Mug

Starbucks Orange County Mug

I was hoping to see some Starbucks/Disney colab merchandise, but alas it was no where in sight.  I did ask if it was in the works and the answer was, “We aren’t ruling out the possibility.”  So, basically, don’t hold your breath!

Grinds to Go
Reserve coffees can be purchased to take home.

Starbucks Reserve Coffees Available to Take Home

Starbucks Reserve Coffees Available to Take Home

And…. If you need some additional energy to go, you can grab boxes of VIA, tea or coffee to take with you.

VIA, Teas & Coffee for Purchase

VIA, Teas & Coffee for Purchase

Overall

Overall, I think that Starbucks did a great job designing a location that fits right in at the Happiest Place on Earth. The design elements are modern and playful, a perfect Disney fit.  I also love that it provides a great little spot for fueling up before a long day in the parks.  It’s also the perfect retreat if you need a break…

Just a few hours in and already a super long line.

Customers Gladly Welcoming Starbucks to Downtown Disney Anaheim

Customers Gladly Welcoming Starbucks to Downtown Disney, Anaheim

Welcome to Downtown Disney, Starbucks!

Have you had a chance to visit the new Starbucks in Downtown Disney?  If so, did you have a favorite design element? Did you try the Reserve coffees or play with the digital chalkboard? Let us know in the comments below.

Heather Sievers is the Disney Food Blog’s Dining in Disneyland columnist. See more of her columns here!